February 15, 2022

Seizing the Opportunity: How Florida Can Leverage ARPA Funds To Support Mobile Response Teams

Executive Summary

This is a moment of unprecedented urgency for providing crisis care. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered skyrocketing behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorder) needs. Opioid overdose deaths have spiked, a third of Florida adults report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder, and thousands of children and youth in crisis are subject to involuntary examinations under the Baker Act.

Also, by July 16, 2022, Florida is required to have infrastructure in place to implement 988, the new national hotline for behavioral health crises. It is anticipated that this will add even more demands on an already overstretched system of care.

A critical element of crisis care is mobile response team services, which provide 24/7 on-demand, multi-disciplinary behavioral crisis intervention services in any setting, including homes, schools, and emergency departments.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), enacted on March 11, 2021, establishes a new option for states to cover these services through their Medicaid programs for a five-year period beginning April 2022. It also provides an enhanced federal match covering 85 percent of the cost of these services for the first three years.

Under the new ARPA option, the state's current $18.3 million annual investment in mobile response teams, which was made pursuant to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, could be used as a state Medicaid match to draw down over $100 million new federal dollars for the first three years and more than $28 million in subsequent years.

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